By Jarrod Horak
The final week of Del Mar’s 2023 Bing Crosby Season featured four graded events on turf. I wrapped up my 13-day Del Mar Fall Meet Horse of the Day video series with five top choice winners and four runner-up finishes. Check out my Del Mar closing week stakes recaps below.
Del Mar Closing Week Stakes Recaps (Dec. 2-3)
Stormy Liberal – Dec. 2 – 5 furlongs turf
I had a feeling that Lane Way was going to get overbet. I have always liked him but five panels was just too short for him, and this race did not set up for him. He ended up completing the trifecta at 1.90-1. Unconquerable Keen ((IRE) was bet down to 1.70-1 and he made the lead from the inside post and kept on going in a 1 3/4 length victory for Flavien Prat and Phil D’Amato. My top choice Turn On the Jets (IRE) stalked the pace and landed the place, and Lane Way raced evenly. The latter should go better at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf course at Santa Anita. Daniel’s Magic, Honey Pants, Johnny Podres, and See Through It also ran. The wire-to-wire winner stopped the clock in 55.87 and paid $5.40.
Grade 3 Jimmy Durante – Dec. 2 – One mile turf
Zona Verde (IRE) got clear from post 10 and that was all she wrote. The fractions were 23.59, 48.08, and 1:12.15. She was traveling smoothly on the front end under Juan Hernandez and nobody ever challenged her. Phil D’Amato’s filly scored by a length and paid $23..60 to win. Lady de Berry (IRE) rallied for the place as the beaten favorite for Flavien Prat and Chad Brown, and this race simply did not set up for her. Yatta rallied for the show and was followed by Antifona (FR), Mrs Brightside (IRE), Mo Fox Givin, She Is Romantic, Circle of Trust, my fading top choice Go With Gusto, and Blue Oasis. The final time was 1:36.02.
Grade 1 Hollywood Derby – Dec. 2 – 1 1/8 miles turf
Maltese Falcon (IRE) and Seal Team (GB) scratched, and that left a field of seven. Silver Knott (GB) made the lead from the inside post under Jaime Spencer and the pace was not quick (23.17, 47.19, 1:12.19). They definitely slowed things down in the middle and it became a sprint for home. Under those conditions, the best finishers usually take over, and that is exactly what happened in this event. My best bet top choice Program Trading (GB) got the jump on fellow closer Webslinger and scored by a neck, and those two were clear of show finisher Silver Knott. Watsonville, Santorini, and Reiquist were next, and Redistricting lugged out, pulled up, and walked off. The winner completed his 1 1/8 miles journey in 1:47.82 and paid $3.80 as the betting favorite.
Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille – Dec. 3 – One mile turf
This race featured a very fast opening quarter of 22 flat. 50-1 outsider Charge for Gold and Invincible were on even terms through the first six furlongs, and the former was a half-length on top in the stretch and looking to spring a massive upset, but the closers were coming. Rothschild found running room along the fence and grabbed the lead in the lane at 23-1 odds, but my best bet top choice Stay Hot found his best stride late and rallied wide to score by a neck under Antonio Fresu. The winner paid $6.60. Rothschild held off stalker Miracle Mark to secure the place by a head, and beaten favorite Lord Bullingdon was next across the line. Charge for Gold weakened to 5th and was followed by Deadpan, Always On Cay, Invincible, and Just a Guess. The final time was 1:35.89 and Peter Eurton was the winning trainer.
Grade 1 Matriarch – Dec. 3 – One mile turf
The pace was solid as expected with Graceland Gray showing the way through splits of 22.80, 45.89, and 1:10.21. Post time favorite Whitebeam (GB), Hamwood Flier (IRE), and Elm Drive were hot on the heels of the early leader, and it was only a matter of time before the closers made their presence felt. My best bet top choice Fluffy Socks was biding her time at the back of the pace under Irad Ortiz Jr., and she started to make a wide run. Her stablemate Surge Capacity was stuck inside and her rider Joel Rosario was waiting for a lane to open. Fluffy Socks rallied wide in the lane and gained a short lead, and I thought she was home free at 6-1, but Surge Capacity found running room and flew along the hedge to score by a head. Fluffy Socks ran too good to lose, and the top two finishers were a length and a half clear of Beaute Cachee (FR) and Whitebeam. Chad Brown saddled the top four finishers. Ruby Nell, Closing Remarks, Elm Drive, Graceland Gray, Queen Goddess, Hamwood Flier, Wakanaka (IRE), and Elounda Queen (IRE) also ran. The final time was 1:33.95 and Surge Capacity paid $11.40.